Remembering Ezra Davis

 

Below is a letter Duncan Ogden loaned me. It was written as one long letter without paragraphs. I copied it as written with spelling errors. All I did was break it where I thought a paragraph should be. Ezra Davis could not read or write.

From a letter written by Delmer Davis Nov. 7, 1958:

“Now about Ezra you can figure him two ways. He was either a damn good liar or else he wanted to impress someone of his importance.  And he never owned a thing nor did anything either.

“He and his brother were sons of an old woman named Kellogg who married my Grand-pop and they like her were not to intelligent. I think in those days it was a damn site more important to have a bull back and a cactus brain. If you were tough enough you could live if you know a damn thing.

“Now Ezra was brought up by my dad and mother but he never made second reader-After he was big enough to work he left dad and went up to Ed Reeds and Ed Reed had just moved from Danby to Peru and as for Ezras working logging or in the woods all he ever did was chop wood–He couldnt measure a log- Ed worked the damn stuffin out of him all he got was clothes Ed and his sons threw out-Dont know how nor why he didn’t freeze there.

Ezra
Ezra Davis. Photo by John Gilbertson.

He never worked a day for MacIntyre nor Hapgood nor Griffith only thru some one who did have a job with those fellows–He couldnt chop–He was no teamster and he hated cows. He never had even a cat-Nor a dog-Hen-Horse-Cow or live animal to my knowledge. He never had a desent home like other guys have.

“He lived by telling people who he had been and he told them so much and so often that he believed it too. I dont think any of the stories he ever concocted harmed any one. He lived with Ed Reed untill Ed got a better job with Del Parker–I dont remember whether he went to Jim Wolcotts from Eds or where he did go but he did go from Eds and got up where Axtel Neilson bought the old corner house and all the Wolcotts died off–If I may be right it was about this time he went into Landgrove.

“I dont know who had him where or anything about it. It was the way he got used and ended up that riled me some. A thing I know about Ezra was he would talk to him self. I have heard him nights up stair when if you didnt kno he went up alone you would think he was visiting with some one. And he would always get into a conversation and be telling what he had done.

“Some of it used to please me quite a lot but when you knew he was spinning the yarn out of good yard wide cloth it wasnt so good. One nite he was talking about some boarding house where he was and he told of a woman that didnt do any thing but bake buiscits and he told what a good cook she was and said “Yes and there was another woman who could make doughnuts and all she did was bake doughnuts. Well by the time he had it all spun everyone was cooks and cooking something. Now I never did figure out what they done for chamber maids.

“One time he went with Frank Slade who goes around the country shoeing horses he was with Frank at old Gus Hilliards in Danby and he started telling old Gus about working for MacIntyre when Mac had 100 horses. Of course Gus knew better for he had sold Mac a few teams but it was a damn good imatation of a big shot any how.

“Probably MacIntyre never owned 100 horses in his lifetime. No Ezra never worked on a log job or at anything where he wasnt with someone like Ed Reed or Jim Wolcott because he could not be trusted to do any thing any way.

“Some how you couldnt get him at any thing with any brain work in it unless you oversee him most of the time. He might mow a lawn if you were stuck on his kind of mowing – He could split and pile wood – Maybe he would have been good in a garden but any thing that had any brain work wasnt in his line.”

If you have any old written stories of men or women from the old Vermont or New Hampshire days I would like to see them. Perhaps we could print them in the paper.

This week’s old saying. “His hammer is missing the bell by two inches.”

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